By Cory Robinson
This week we are taking a look at the episode Remote Control Man directed by Bob Clark who is best known for directing A Christmas Story and Rhinestone depending on how you view that movie and whether you think “Drinkenstein” is a masterpiece of a country song. The episode starts out with Walter Poindexter (Sydney Lassick) a meek and cowardly man who hates his dead end job and his marriage which includes: a wife who abuses him, (played by Nancy Parsons who is best known for her role as Ms. Balbricker in the Porky’s trilogy) his oldest son who is a practicing Buddhist monk but has an anger issue especially when he doesn’t have his Cheese Whiz, and his youngest son (played by Jeff Cohen aka Chunk from The Goonies) who wants nothing more than to kill his father because of his punk rock life style. It’s safe to say that Walter hates his life with everyone around him putting him down all the time. The only thing in Walter’s life that gives him any solace is his TV set which he comes home to every night and starts ignoring his family by tuning them out so he can no longer hear the verbal abuse.
Every day after work, Walter comes home to the neighbor’s dogs viciously biting him over and over again until he can safely get in the house, but he is still not safe from his family who order him to do chores around the house until he drops from exhaustion. On this particular day, Grendel (Walter’s wife) drops a spoon in the garbage disposal and wants him to fish it out. While Walter is doing this, his youngest son Ralph (just imagine Chunk going to Hot Topic and wearing a rainbow colored afro) decides to turn on the garbage disposal while Walter’s hand is stuck in the sink. Walter miraculously gets his hand out just in time before Ralph hits the switch but before Walter can yell at the boy, Grendel yells at Ralph for abusing their child thus making Walter look like the bad guy. Walter has enough and then decides to go back to his TV to shut everyone out and his wife threatens that one day he will get a big surprise if he pays more attention to his TV than his family.
After another grueling day of work, Walter arrives home to see that his TV has gone missing and that Grendel sold the TV in order to buy an outfit in order to seduce Walter to sleep with her again. Unfortunately this does not work as Walter goes into a fit of rage and storms out of the house trying to find another television set. After driving around, he finds a strange store decorated with neon that seems like it is from the future (well a future depicted by the 80s) and decides to go inside. When Walter sets foot into the store, the salesperson somehow knows Walter’s name and that he wants a television set but since Walter is so desperate for one he doesn’t stop the ask too many questions as the salesperson tells Walter that he is already approved on credit for a new television set. Since Walter’s credit score is so low, he is utterly joyed on the fact that he can go home with a state of the art new television set.
Walter goes back home and turns on his new TV just in time to watch the Miss USA pageant when Grendel comes in and immediately wants to know how Walter was able to afford a new TV. Walter tells her that he got it with credit but Grendel is convinced that he has a secret account and is holding out on her. Enraged, she goes to the back room to retrieve a battle axe to which she threatens to destroy the TV with unless he turns the TV off. Walter reluctantly does so but when he turns the TV off, Grendel disappears and when he turns it back on Grendel transforms into Miss South Dakota from the pageant contest. Walter becomes frightened at first but Miss South Dakota tells him that she wants to be his wife and wants him to kiss her. Before he can do that, his oldest son comes in and starts yelling at him until Walter points the tv remote at him and turns him into Face from The A-Team (played by Dirk Benedict) and starts acting like his character as if he is real. Walter becomes elated at the fact that he has a magical remote so he starts using the remote on his son Ralph to transform him into Arnold Jackson from Different Strokes (played by Gary Coleman).
Walter is now convinced that he has the happy life he has always wanted, but he starts to get greedy when his new wife doesn’t know how to make breakfast, so he turns her into June Cleaver from Leave It to Beaver (played by Barbara Billingsley) After Walter has breakfast with his new family, he goes to work while finally being happy for once but that happiness doesn’t last long when he arrives home finding his family taken hostage due to Face borrowing money from loan sharks and finds that most of his stuff has been repossessed by criminals. Unfortunately Face does not feel too bad about this and just asks Walter to pay off the loan sharks but since Walter doesn’t have the money, the gangsters start throwing gasoline around the house in order to burn it which panics Walter because they are going to destroy his new television set.
What happens next, I can’t even explain so I am just going to force you to watch the episode on the NBC site here: http://www.nbc.com/amazing-stories/video/remote-control-man/2909101
This was a really goofy episode that felt like it was trying way too hard to be funny. Unlike the last episode Guilt Trip which seems like the whole crew under-performed, this episode had the exact opposite problem but I will say that the casting was good and all of the celebrity cameos add a nice charm of nostalgia to the mix. Being a child of the 80s, it was awesome to see all of the character cameos and a lot more come out near the end of the episode to try to teach Walter a lesson that really doesn’t tie in to the rest of the episode. The moral of the story seems to be that you should spend more time with your family than your television set but in Walter’s case I don’t blame him for ignoring his family as they just abuse him and drain him financially. If the script was written better and didn’t go for the biggest laughs then the ending would have made more sense but as it stands it just feels like an episode that tries too hard.
Overall I would give this episode a 7/10 mostly due to the second half being very entertaining due to all of the television cameos including the ones said above, Ed McMahon, KITT from Knight Rider, the Incredible Hulk, Richard Simmons, and many others. So if you were someone who grew up in the 80s then I wholeheartedly recommend this episode but if most of the references go over your head, then you won’t find much to enjoy about this episode. So take your Member Berries and enjoy this episode and come back next week when I take a look at Santa 85.